Project #4664

Customer Messaging on Opportunistic Pathogens in Plumbing Systems

Principal Investigator
Research Manager
Hyunyoung Jang, PhD
Corona Environmental Consulting, LLC
Opportunistic Pathogens
Microbes & Pathogens
Utility Management
Customer Relations & Stakeholder Engagement


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acknowledges higher waterborne disease occurrence from premise plumbing (pipes, heaters, showerheads, and fixtures, etc. located within the property line) than from pathogens passing through the treatment plant into the drinking water distribution system. Given increasing populations of elderly or immunocompromised individuals, coupled with advances in clinical and environmental detection procedures that afford greater sensitivity/specificity, the public health impacts of opportunistic premise plumbing pathogens (OPPPs) will likely increase.

The overall goal of this project was to develop and validate a series of messages for OPPPs, with a focus on Legionella, to educate various customer groups on the steps they need to take to better protect themselves from waterborne disease from their own premise plumbing.

Appendix G of the report, which provides sample text for websites, bill inserts, etc., is posted below under Project Papers. Various additional resources were developed as part of this project. A template presentation that utilities can use during face-to-face meetings with customers can be found below under Presentations. Two fact sheets, Frequently Asked Questions About Legionnaires’ Disease and National & International Guidelines for Legionella Control, are posted under Project Papers. American Water used the messages and materials developed in this project to create an example webpage.

A video about this project can be found on YouTube.

Published in 2018.